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2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Jeremy Horst

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, October 23, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 10

PHOTO: AP

Jeremy Horst came to the Phillies via the Wilson Valdez trade with Cincinnati, and wasn’t really expected to contribute all that much in 2012–but to the surprise of almost everyone, he ended up having an outstanding season for the Phils out of the bullpen.

He was down in the minors until June 28 when he and Brian Sanches were called up after Chad Qualls was designated for assignment and Joe Savery was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Even though he wasn’t with the big league club until the end of June, he tossed 31.1 innings, and posted a team-best ERA of just 1.15. And if you like advanced stats, he posted an FIP of 2.39 which was good for second on the team among relievers. He had a career-high strikeout rate (11.5 K/9), and an ‘OK’ walk rate (4 BB/9)–and together that have him a 2.9 K/BB ratio. He held opposing batters to a .191 average, which was a career-best.

Another thing he did well was keeping his opposing HR rate down. His opposing HR rate (0.3 HR/9) was the lowest in the Phils bullpen among guys that threw at least 15 innings.

Overall, Horst’s 2012 was a pleasant surprise for the Phillies. The Wilson Valdez trade is looking like a great move and a steal by Ruben Amaro Jr.

Horst may be that 8th inning guy the Phillies need to get to Jonathan Papelbon. Antonio Bastardo was up and down all year, and I think Horst could really challenge him for the set-up man role next year.

Grade: A … In a season where the Phillies bullpen was possibly their weakest part of the team, Horst did exceptionally well, especially for a guy they got in a trade for Wilson Valdez.

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

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Phillies Player Review: Joe Blanton

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, October 19, 2012 07:50 AM Comments: 4

Big Joe was the same old (AP)

Back in June, I asked if Joe Blanton was throwing too many strikes. It seemed that he was afraid to walk anyone.

During his time with the Phillies this season, Blanton’s K/BB ratio was 6.39, eclipsing his previous career high of 3.50 set in 2007 with Oakland. Big Joe was absolutely pounding the strike zone this season, almost to a fault. By throwing it over the plate with such regularity, he allowed 22 home runs in 133 1/3 innings with the Phillies, and 29 overall, serving up seven more following his deadline trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As an aside, I was standing on the field at the moment Joe Blanton had been traded. I noticed Blanton was not on the field prior to one of the games while the rest of his teammates stretched at roughly 4 pm. Minutes later, he was gone, one of the remaining pieces of the 2008 title team headed west.

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Phillies Player Review: Juan Pierre

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Thu, October 18, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 12

Juan Pierre was a valuable commodity at the plate and on the bases this year.

In a season of endless disappointment, one of the highlights for the Phillies was the play of wily veteran Juan Pierre.

As spring training wrapped up, there was some doubt about whether Pierre would even make the team. It came down to the 35-year old lefty or Scott Podsednik, two seasoned players battling for one final roster spot as the team’s fifth outfielder. In the end, Manuel and Co. elected to go with Pierre and the move paid off in dividends, not just because of Pierre’s play, but because Scotty Pods became little more than a footnote for Boston later in the season after being dealt by the Phils.

Pierre–often a point of contention between traditionalists and sabers–on the other hand, gave the Phillies far more than they ever could’ve hoped for from a guy who wasn’t expected to have a major impact on the team. The impact he would have was felt almost immediately.

Through April he posted a .318/.357/.348 triple slash line. From there, he was the model of consistency, posting at least a .290 batting average in every month but August (.240). With John Mayberry, Jr. and Ty Wigginton struggling–the other left field options–Pierre played himself into a role where he was Manuel’s go-to guy. He wasn’t an everyday player, but he was about as close as you could get for a platoon player.

As the year went on, fans began to look to Pierre with his speed and ability to get on base as a viable lead-off man over the much maligned Jimmy Rollins. While Pierre never really ascended to that role, the fact that there was an argument for him is a testament to what he was able to provide the Phillies lineup. While his more advanced statistics paint a picture of an invaluable player throughout his career, he was worth every bit of the $800K the Phillies paid him in 2012 and much more. How much more, you ask? According to fangraphs, his play this season was worth about $7.5M.

His final numbers are very respectable: .307/.351/.371 with 59 runs scored and 37 stolen bases in 130 games (105 starts). More impressive? He was only caught stealing seven times, which is the lowest total Pierre’s ever posted in a full season, and he struck out just 27 times, which is the lowest strikeout total on the 2012 roster for a player with at least 350 ABs. His 1.7 WAR on fangraphs was better than expected for a player originally thought to be the replacement.

Really, the only gripes anyone could have with Pierre is his lack of power hitting (he had just 17 extra base hits) and his fielding, which is subpar (particularly his arm). But if you were expecting a ton of power from him, you probably should reevaluate your expectations.

Towards the end of the season, as his playing time diminished, he didn’t make a scene. Instead, he could be seen in the dugout, talking to younger players like Domonic Brown about the game, trying to mentor them. He was the consummate professional.

Juan Pierre’s 2012 grade: B I think a B is a fair grade for Pierre. He wasn’t a superstar, but he was above average, especially when considering the expectations for him going into the season. Alas, it seems it was a one-time trip for Pierre in Philadelphia. The Phillies are in need of impact bats in the outfield, and they’re already committed to John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Nate Schierholtz for next year. With Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf also in contention for a roster spot, and the Phillies expected to sign or trade for at least one more outfielder (and more than likely two), it seems there won’t be any room for JP Beast Mode. Farewell, Juan. We hardly knew ye.

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

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Phillies Player Review: Placido Polanco

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, October 17, 2012 08:00 AM Comments: 26

Placido Polanco

It was a chilly season at the hot corner (Phillies Nation Photo)

Placido Polanco is finished as an everyday major league player.

Whether it’s his precipitously declining offensive ability or his inability to stay healthy, Polanco simply cannot productively withstand the burden of a lengthy season. He could latch on elsewhere and play out a few one-year deals as a utility infielder and defensive replacement, but this season cemented the notion many fans had last year that he is mostly finished.

Polanco remained stellar defensively, but proved so brutal at the plate that he ranked as one of the very worst with the bat in the National League. In 90 games and 328 plate appearances, he hit a measly .257/.302/.327, with a .279 wOBA. After adjusting for park effects, he hit 30 percent worse than the league average, a mark bottomed by very few.

Among the 137 NL players that tallied 300+ PAs, here are several pertinent Polanco ranks:

  • 12th-lowest wOBA
  • 7th-lowest ISO (Slugging Percentage – Batting Average)
  • 20th-lowest Walk Rate

Polanco walked even less, swung even more, made less contact, and the contact he made was predominantly weakly-hit grounders easily fielded by the opponent. He had the 9th-highest groundball rate in the league. He hit for absolutely no power whatsoever and was such a dismal hitter that fans would have preferred to see the pre-2012 Kevin Frandsen play third base.

However, Polanco remained a very good fielder, saving four runs above average with his glove. His fielding rating ranked 7th among the 50 NL players to man third base this year. That was his only saving grace this season, as the difference between him and Frandsen and, to an even greater extent, Ty Wigginton, was quite evident. Still, this was a waste of a season for such a formerly-talented player. While it was great to see him record his 2,000th career hit, it was awfully tough to watch him struggle to connect with pitches he used to line up the middle.

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Phillies Player Review: Michael Schwimer

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, October 16, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 6

Michael Schwimer started the year down in Triple-A Lehigh Valley after not making the team in Spring Training. He was expected to provide the Phils big league club with some relief help when they needed it–and they certainly needed it when Mike Stutes went on the DL early in the year.

However, his stay in the bigs didn’t last too long, as he was sent down just a few weeks later to make room for Cliff Lee, who was set to return to action after spending some time on the DL.

When Jose Contreras went down with an elbow injury in early June, the Phils yet again recalled Schwimer, and this time he stayed up until mid August.

But then things got weird. He was sent down on August 23, but did not report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He claimed that he was injured, and should have been put on the 15-day DL, rather than being sent down. He reluctantly reported almost a week later, and, although he was presumed to be called up in September, he never was. His last game of the 2012 season was on August 19 in a game in Milwaukee.

Even though Schwimer wasn’t with the Phillies for the entire year, he still pitched the 3rd-most innings (34.1) out of the Phils bullpen. He had a 4.46 ERA, and was overall in the middle of the pack among Phils relievers. He wasn’t the best at anything, but he wasn’t the worst, either.

Jon’s Grade: C … Overall, I think Schwimer did a decent job, given the circumstances. He wasn’t even on the team on Opening Day, and made multiple trips between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley during the season.

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Phillies Player Review: Ty Wigginton

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, October 15, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 17

The Phillies expected a little more out of

Our 2012 player reviews continue today with our first bench player: Ty Wigginton.

Wigginton was traded to the Phillies from the Rockies on Nov. 20, 2011 for a player to be named later or cash. Colorado needed to shed some salary, and they eventually signed Michael Cuddyer to be a rich man’s Wigginton.

In Wigginton, the Phils acquired a righthanded bench bat who could play first base, third base and left field. He was due $4 million in 2012, but the Rockies paid half.

On the surface it was a shrewd move. Platoon Wigginton with a lefthanded hitting first baseman and you might get decent enough production to offset some of the loss of Ryan Howard for the first half of the season.

Things didn’t work out. And, at 35, Wigginton’s career may be a year or so away from completion.

He started 44 games for the Phillies at first base and 13 at third base. The 11-year vet didn’t give them as much offense as either side would have wanted — he hit .235/.314/.375 with 11 HR and 43 RBI.

Much of that offense came in four games against the Mets, in which Wigginton had four homers and 13 RBI.

He was a butcher at third base. Not that errors always tell the story, but Wigginton had eight in 48 innings at the hot corner. According to Fangraphs, he cost the Phillies 11.2 runs on defense. That was the primary determinant of a -0.7 WAR.

When Howard returned, Wigginton did little as a pinch-hitter. He was 9-for-44 with two extra-base hits and 13 strikeouts off the bench.

His hits weren’t too timely. With runners in scoring position, Wigginton hit .192.

Wigginton finished with a .689 OPS. Just a bit higher than 2007 Wes Helms (.665).

The move can’t really be criticized because the Phillies only paid $2 million for Wigginton’s services. Ruben Amaro Jr. could have further fortified his bench, but when he essentially purchased Wigginton, he didn’t know Chase Utley would miss 76 games to start the season. Had Amaro known that he’d be without his No. 3 and No.4 hitters , maybe he would have gone after a better backup corner infielder.

Ty Wigginton’s 2012 grade: D+

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Phillies Player Review: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, October 14, 2012 01:52 PM Comments: 14

The outfield situation was messy in 2012. (AP)

The two outfielders spent the first half of the season with the Phillies, then both were sent packing to the west coast in separate pre-deadline deals. For that, we put Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence together as they were key cogs in an underachieving first half; not only personally, but for the entire team.

After a solid 2011 season, Victorino seemed primed for a big contract following the 2012 season as he hit free agency. The issue was that he let the contract talk follow him wherever he went. Victorino, as we’ve come to learn, moves and talks a mile a minute. There’s a lot going on in his head already, and the thoughts of millions of dollars were too much to overcome – he said so himself.

As for Pence, no one really knows what’s happening there. So much kinetic energy was not always a good thing with Pence. When he came here from Houston, it was his all-out hustle that was so endearing to the fans. That quickly got old as the dude struggled big time with runners in scoring position during the first half of the year and couldn’t slow himself down at the plate no matter the circumstance.

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Phillies Player Review: Ryan Howard

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Sat, October 13, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 37

2012 may have been Ryan Howard's rock bottom.

I’d like to preface this post by saying I’m a Ryan Howard supporter. He’s often the center of debate in this region, and I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt in most instances. That needed to be said. Because what you’re about to read is going to be a harsh evaluation for one of the Phillies’ highest paid players.

Without question, 2012 was Ryan Howard‘s most trying in the big leagues. From the beginning of Spring Training, when Howard suffered a setback during the healing of his torn Achilles tendon, it seemed the stars were aligned against the man Charlie Manuel has become fond of calling The Big Piece.

He was absent for the first half of the season. When he finally did make his debut on July 6, his team was 9 games under .500 and 13 games back in the division, settling into the cellar nicely, five games behind the fourth place Marlins.

At that time, Howard was seen as a beacon of hope. His presence would surely stabilize a lineup that had been wrought with inconsistency, and his power and run production would help the team to turn things around. The Phils were getting their best run producer back for a second half push. Continue reading Phillies Player Review: Ryan Howard

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Phillies Player Review: Kevin Frandsen

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, October 12, 2012 08:00 AM Comments: 23

Context is key in any evaluation or analysis.

I’ll probably have that phrase etched on my tombstone. Judging numbers in conjunction to the league average, the player’s past averages, or both, is the single most important aspect of analysis. Otherwise, it’s impossible to truly grasp what the information means.

I’ll stop there before this player review devolves into a Morpheus-style philosophical discussion, but just remember that context is integral to understanding information. It’s also particularly appropriate when discussing Kevin Frandsen‘s 2012 campaign because he exceeded every possible expectation this past season.

Frandsen performed at a level that nobody, likely himself included, thought was possible. On their own, Frandsen’s numbers were quite solid over a small sample of plate appearances. Relative to his various pre-season projections and the meager playing time he was expected to receive, his numbers were literally off the charts.

He established career bests in practically every statistical category, and every time it seemed like his production would start suffering, he churned out a 3-5 night with a double, triple and two hard-hit lineouts. Sure, his line was driven by a sky-high batting average on balls in play, but it’s foolish to write off or ignore what he actually did this season based on the likelihood that he regresses in the future.

Frandsen made the absolute most of his opportunity this year and ranked 4th on the team in WAR/PA, behind Carlos Ruiz, Erik Kratz and Chase Utley.

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Phillies Player Review: Jonathan Papelbon

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, October 11, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 9

"Cinco Ocho" couldn't replicate his numbers from 2011, but his 2012 was still really good.

In a year full of frustration and shortcomings in all phases, the Phillies bullpen was arguably the most disappointing. After moving on from 2011 closer Ryan Madson, the Phils added Jonathan Papelbon, and Ruben Amaro Jr. made him the highest paid reliever in MLB history with a 4 year, $50 million (actually $50,000,058) contract.

Along with the addition of Papelbon, the Phils also expected guys like David Herndon, Mike Stutes, and probably others, to contribute positively to the team.

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